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Are you looking for the best camper van accessories for your travels? Whether you’re hitting the road on a hot day or bundling up against the cold, this list of campervan accessories will make van life more pleasant.
Whilst we’ve never embarked on a van build or van conversion, we have owned three different vehicles over the years. An extremely old Renault Traffic, a lovely Mazda Bongo and now our fabulous long wheel base Vauxhall Vivaro.
Travelling with kids has forced us to find the accessories we can’t do without. After much trial and error and a LOT of help from Olpro, we have come up with a definitive list. Check out the things we can’t live without for every season.
Plus, bonus sections to help you with camping off-grid and saving space. Some things on the list are adaptable for different seasons, but I’ve put them into the one in which they will come in the most handy.
Please note: I’m not teaching you to suck eggs by listing the usual essentials like filling up the van with fuel or remembering to take cooking utensils. I’m pretty sure you’ve got that. These are the added extras that will make your trip more comfortable.
Many of our recommendations are available to purchase via the Olpro website. You can use the code NATALIE10 at the checkout for a 10% discount on anything you buy from them.
Camper Van Accessories For Spring
We absolutely love camping in spring. It feels like the world is coming back to life, and by the Easter holidays the weather is SOMETIMES fabulous. Equally, I did once have to take my daughter to the campsite toilets through a blizzard in the Easter holidays.
That’s why our recommendations for Spring camping accessories cover all weathers. Four seasons in one day anybody?
As Spring tends to be a time for shorter trips, we tend not to take our biggest awning. Instead, we go with the Cubo Breeze. This is a reasonably sized awning with a footprint of length 310 cm, width 310 cm.
It doesn’t come with an interior bedroom, which we find unnecessary in the colder months as the children sleep in the van roof for warmth. If you do want to add a bedroom, you can buy a Pop Up Free Standing Inner Tent separately.
Electric awning pump
Whatever the time of year, if you’re taking an awning, I highly recommend packing a high-pressure electric pump. This will save so much time and stress when setting up the awning. It’s great for inflating SUPs too.
Good quality sleeping bag
As we discovered to our detriment in the middle of an unexpected blizzard a few years ago, you can’t rely on the weather in Spring. So, go for a warm sleeping bag – something like the mummy style Montegra would work well.
Bonus tip: We always pack some duvets as well as sleeping bags. I appreciate this is an absolute no-go if you’re short of space. But if you do have room, it’s comforting to know there’s an extra layer of warmth if you need it.
On campsites, a windbreak is a great way to mark the boundary of your plot, particularly if you don’t have an awning. Of course, they come in handy on the beach as well. We went for a 7-pole wooden windbreak that’s easy to put up and take down.
Waterproof coats and wellies
There is NOTHING worse than being damp and muddy when you’re camping. So, make sure you remember waterproof coats and wellies. Make sure everyone takes off their shoes before coming into the awning so you don’t end up with an indoor mud bath.
Portable washing line
On the same note, a freestanding portable washing line is extremely useful. you’ll be able to hang up any damp clothes to get them dry. Ideally, the washing line shouldn’t go inside an awning, because they are prone to condensation which will be exacerbated by damp clothes.
This is your reminder to pack the pillows. All year round. If you do forget, stuff a jumper with clothes and use that instead. Or, head to a local shop to buy a set of pillows to leave in the van!
It’s still pretty dark in the evenings, not ideal for wandering around a campsite. So, don’t forget to pack a torch.
Don’t forget chargers for any electrical items you’re taking. Especially if you’re relying on your phone for a torch!
Ok so, I know this isn’t for everyone. But if you have a dryrobe or similar changing robe available, they are AMAZING for camping. Going for a dip? Change under a dryrobe. Chilly in the evening? Chuck on a dryrobe. Walking to the campsite toilets in the middle of the night? Dryrobe. You get the picture.
Now, I appreciate this does not in any way count as travelling light. However, paddle boards are a great way to get out on the water without getting in it. Ideal for Spring when the water temperature is still a little chilly. If you do have space to take one with you, it can save a fortune over renting one when you’re there. We use an inflatable paddle board so that it fits in the van. Team this up with the electric awning pump to make life a little easier.
Camper Van Accessories For Summer
Summer is for long campervan trips, relaxing in the sunshine or making the most of the activities on offer. Whether you stay in one place or travel around, there are certain accessories that will make your trip much easier.
Large awning to make yourself at home
Whilst we sometimes travel around on our summer break, we’re starting to prefer just parking up on a campsite and staying put for a fortnight. If that’s your style of camper van break, you’re going to need a large, homely awning. Think Olpro Cocoon Breeze, an inflatable drive-away awning with two separate sleeping compartments plus storage areas.
The footprint of this awning is length 455cm, Width 350cm. We use it to hold all the incidentals that don’t pack away into cupboards in the van such as wetsuits and paddleboards. These things go into one of the internal “rooms”, while the children sleep in the other. This gives them a bit of independence from us and makes the van a lot less cramped.
The Cocoon Breeze is available on the Olpro website.
Collapsible storage unit
When you’re using a large awning, it’s important to have proper storage or you end up just chucking things in there. This year, we took a collapsible storage unit. With the children sleeping in the awning, this was ideal for them to store their clothes in so they could get up and get ready in the mornings without leaving the awning.
Portable fire pit or off-the ground BBQ
We love an evening barbecue and where appropriate, it’s great to get a fire going on so we can sit outside after dark too. If you enjoy this as well, make sure you pack a fire pit that’s off the ground. In the warm weather, fires spread so easily that it’s important to do it safely. We always take kindling and logs with us too.
A fire pit and BBQ in one saves space and makes sure you’ll be doing all your cooking and fire lighting off the ground.
Having cooked a BBQ, it’s super useful to have somewhere to put the food without having to take it into the van. This is particularly important if you have dogs – our two would be straight into the food with their noses if we didn’t have our trusty folding table. We sometimes pull up stools to sit at the table, or alternatively we’ll just sit on fold out chairs and eat from our laps. Either way, the table itself will come in useful.
Reusable water bottles
I always find reusable water bottles useful for camping. They’re great for days out, plus just leaving a full bottle each lying around by the van makes the kids much more likely to grab it and drink.
Citronella candles and mosquito repellent
Depending on where you go, Summer is notoriously nightmarish for midges. They’re particularly prevalent in Scotland and Northumberland in August. In Kielder Forest at that time of year, we’ve had to use full-on face masks to protect us from them. So firstly, do your research. If you’re allergic to bites or suffer badly with them, try to time your trip so there won’t be too many around. If you’re unsure as to whether there will be midges, take insect repellent and citronella candles just in case.
First aid kit
If the midges do get you, you’ll be turning straight to the soothing cream, so make sure you pack that into your first aid kit. As well as the usual first aid essentials, the other thing we recommend including is Calpol if you have kids. We’ve had to pay £40 for a taxi to collect one from a pharmacy and bring Calpol to us in the middle of the night before. That’s one mistake we’ve learned from, so it goes everywhere with us.
We bought lightweight towels a few years back and they have been a complete revelation. They take up hardly any space, AND they actually dry you better than traditional bath sheets. The kids and I use these at home and after swimming now too.
Lightweight sleeping bags
Lightweight sleeping bags during warm months are a godsend. The last thing you want in a warm van is to sleep in a mummy style bag and end up sweltering. We love these dark moon pattern sleeping bags from Olpro. They’re ideal for the warmer weather because they unzip completely, helping to keep cool on hot nights.
If you do any off-grid camping, solar panels are a must. And in the summer months, it’s very easy to just have the odd night off grid, especially if you can top up your power supply using the sun that is (hopefully) in abundance. Having a solar panel doesn’t necessarily involve getting one installed onto the van roof. A standalone solar panel will do exactly the same job.
If you’re travelling with kids and want to spend a reasonable amount of time in the water, wetsuits are a must. It’s always much easier to take your own if you have them. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to hire one in the right size. We tend to spend at least a few hours on the beach and the girls happily play in the sea on paddle / body / surf boards for ages with a wetsuit.
Last time we went away in the summer on a road trip from the Midlands to Scotland, we forgot our body boards. They were £10 to hire just for a few hours. Far too much to pay repeatedly and we tend to spend at least some time on the beach every day. So, this is a reminder mainly for us. Take the body boards. Beach days are cheap, and they’re much more fun with a bodyboard.
We invested in these beautiful handmade wooden Betulaboards with the girls’ names on them. The idea is that they’re a one-time purchase – much more environmentally friendly than having to repeatedly replace the foam boards. They’re handmade to order, so even if they’re not showing as available, it’s worth dropping them a message if you would like them.
Camper Van Accessories For Autumn
Even if you’re not a cold-weather camper, don’t rule out camping in Autumn. The weather can still be fairly decent, especially in September and October. Everywhere looks beautiful with the trees putting on their autumnal displays and lots of fun kids activities take place around October half term and Halloween. So, wrap up warm and pack our essential camper van accessories for Autumn before you head off.
Portable coffee grinder and metal cafetiere
Call me a coffee snob, but a portable coffee grinder is the dream when camping. We’ve got a manual one that you have to sit and turn to grind the coffee. We also invested in a metal cafetiere, because the glass ones break so easily and broken glass on the van floor is the last thing you want. With these, you can take coffee beans and make a decent cup of coffee every morning to get you through the day.
Hot chocolate and marshmallows
For the kids, hot chocolate whilst wrapped up warm is an autumn staple. So, we make sure we take hot chocolate with us, along with some marsh mallows. As veggies, we’ve only recently discovered marshmallows. Marks and Spencer do lovely vegan marshmallows in their plant kitchen range, but they’re really large – better for toasting on the fire than putting on a drink.
Rucksack for hiking
If you’re anything like us, you probably enjoy making the most of the beautiful colours of autumn and going hiking or cycling during your trip. For that, it’s well worth investing in a COMFORTABLE rucksack or day sack. If we’re walking for a couple of days, we swear by our 65 Litre Rucksack. For shorter walks, a day sack will be more appropriate. However, with each you’re looking for the same qualities – comfortable to wear, spreads the weight out well and has a strap around the waist so you’re not carrying the whole weight fully on your shoulders.
Whilst I know it’s not necessarily the first thing you think of when camping in Autumn, it’s a great time to surf. The waves are often a little bigger than in summer and you might be surprised to know that the sea is at its warmest in September. It’s had all year to warm up, plus the difference between sea and air temperature will be at its smallest, so you won’t feel so cold when you get out.
Camper Van Accessories For Winter
Winter camping is for hardcore vanlife enthusiasts. We have got into the habit of going away over new year. Be warned, you’re going to need a few extra things to keep warm. We also recommend heading to a campsite that has somewhere to go indoors. We look for dog friendly pubs on site or nearby or even a site with an indoor pool.
Most vans these days have a heater built in. However, if yours doesn’t then it’s definitely worth investing in one. A small electric heater is surprisingly effective in a van if you’ve got an electric hookup. If not, it’s worth finding a heater that will work for you. A van is only a small space to heat so it doesn’t take much and the extra warmth will be invaluable.
Van window covers
If you’re camping during the colder months, window covers are the van life accessories you need. Even if you have a heater in the van, you’re going to want to limit the amount of heat that escapes, particularly during winter months. Window covers might be an investment in the short term, but they’re going to save you a fortune on heating.
A kettle and backup kettle
Hot drinks are an integral part of camping to us anyway, but I can’t imagine coping without them in the colder months. That’s why we always take a kettle that works on our gas stove in the van AND a backup stove. We recently ran out of gas mid-way through making coffee and struggled to find anywhere to replace the gas bottle, so our little camping stove was a godsend.
In the Winter months when the ground freezes, putting the awning away can be a nightmare. If you haven’t yet invested in a peg puller, I highly recommend it. You can thank me later.
Whilst wellies are an essential for wet camping trips, warm boots are a delight. Anyone who goes cold water swimming will appreciate the absolute joy of putting on a pair of fluffy boots after a swim.
Whilst it may seem a little obvious, taking warm, woolly socks on winter camping trips is a must. Much like the boots, they’re a joy to put on. However, they do have a tendency to get damp, so I recommend taking more pairs than you think you need.
An awning carpet may seem like a luxury. But if you’ve got dogs, I might go as far as to say it’s an essential. We have in the past ended up with rips in the groundsheet from their claws. Additionally, the carpet feels quite luxurious underfoot and it makes a great oversized picnic blanket for group picnics too!
Extra Camper Van Accessories You Might Need If Camping Off Grid
If you’re going to camp off grid, the most important thing to remember is to do no damage and leave no trace. Check the rules before camping in national parks and open spaces. If off grid camping is allowed, remember to only have fires off the ground and take your litter home with you.
If you’re staying off-grid for a while, you will probably want a portable shower if you don’t have one in your van. They’re surprisingly cheap to buy, this Olpro one has an RRP of £15 but it’s currently just £12. You’ll probably want to invest in a pop-up shower tent too.
If you’re staying in a National Park or other area of natural beauty, it’s particularly important to think about where your shower water goes. Try to use something to catch the water so you can dispose of it in a designated greywater disposal drain.
If your van doesn’t already have a leisure battery fitted, you’ll probably want to do this if you’re spending more than a couple of days off grid. It’s worth considering a solar panel to top the battery up while you’re stationary as well.
Portable power station
If you haven’t got a leisure battery or can’t rely on it for a few nights, consider something like a Jackery portable power station. This can charge all your devices and you can either buy it as a standalone item or with a solar panel. This would come in pretty handy at home too, charging everything via solar power would save a fortune on your electric bill!
Van levellers could fit into any category in this guide, but they come in particularly handy when wild camping since the ground is likely to be uneven.
Additional Camper Van Accessories To Take If You’re Short Of Space
Fitting everything in is ALWAYS a problem for us when camping. That’s why I’ve added on our recommendations for what to take when you’re short on space. Will they make my husband pack lighter? Never. But these things will help you to fit more into your van to make life a little bit easier.
Roof rack or roof box
Depending on what extra items you need to take, a roof rack or roof box could solve all your problems when it comes to space. If it’s surfboards you’re looking to store, a roof rack is the answer. If you’re short on space for clothes and accessories, invest in a roof box. We ended up picking one up second hand because they’re relatively robust so it’s not necessary to buy one brand new.
You may have picked up by now that we really do not travel light. In fact, we tend to take three bikes and a husky scooter on the back of our van on most holidays. We recently invested in a large bike rack for the tow bar. In case you were wondering, husky scooters fit on this as well as bike racks.
Did I miss out your favourite camper van accessories? Let me know, I’m happy to add anything that will make people’s lives easier!